Rick Perry’s Views Supported By Republicans, Not So Much By Independents

Rick Perry is the Republican frontrunner largely because he holds views that are widely supported within the party. Those same views could pose a real problem for him in the General Election, though:

In a hypothetical general election matchup, Perry trails President Barack Obama among the poll’s entire sample, 49 percent to 40 percent, about twice the deficit for Romney. Perry also confronts negative reactions from Americans disinclined to vote for a candidate expressing the skepticism he has about the viability of Social Security, evolution science and whether humans contribute to climate change.

“Science is an integral part of our culture,” said Danyelle Lowers, 27, a student at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, who considers herself an independent voter. “To have such a general disregard for the sciences is rather terrifying.”


The most publicized campaign issue focusing on Perry — his characterization of Social Security as a “Ponzi Scheme” — has Americans divided. Among all respondents, 46 percent said they agree with the remark, while 50 percent said they disagree.

Among Republicans, 65 percent agree with Perry’s statements about Social Security, while 33 percent disagree. Independents are nearly equally split.


Forty-five percent of Americans say they’d be less inclined to support a candidate who says science isn’t settled on whether human activity contributes to global warming, while 25 percent said it would make them more likely to back that candidate. Half said they would be turned off by a candidate who says evolution remains an unproven theory, with 20 percent saying they’d be more inclined to support someone who holds that view.

Interestingly, the poll also shows what could be slippage in the GOP horserace by Perry, perhaps due to the comments that have come out over the past two weeks of debating:

The results are similar in a new Gallup poll:

Texas Gov. and presidential candidate Rick Perry’s comments on Social Security, which include calling it a “Ponzi scheme,” appear to be a non-issue for most Republicans. However, they could cost him support with independents should he ultimately win the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. As many Republicans say they are more likely to vote for Perry for president because of his views on Social Security as say they are less likely — 19% each. Among independents, 12% are more likely to vote for him and 32% less likely.

Perry’s statements on Social Security are more likely to harm his campaign indirectly by weakening his perceived viability than they are to turn off Republicans who disagree with his views. In contrast to the 19% of Republicans who say they would personally be less likely to support Perry over his Social Security views, 37% believe those views would hurt his chances of being elected president if he were the GOP nominee. Just 17% say they will help his chances.

Independents tilt even more strongly toward perceiving the issue hurts rather than helps Perry’s electability, 40% vs. 11%.

The 2012 General Election is going to be a battle for the independent voters. As I noted yesterday, President Obama is having trouble with those voters in battleground states, thus giving the GOP an opening to take back many of of the states they lost in 2008. A Republican nominee like Perry, though. may just be what sends the independents back into Obama’s fold.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, Climate Change, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    Oh, no. When Republicans themselves are polled they say Perry has the best chance of beating Obama.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    I hope Perry is nominated…I look forward to the contrast…and the discussion.
    Are we a nation that does not believe in science, and wants to abolish SS? Do we really aspire to be like Perry’s Texas…low wages, high numbers of un-insured, mediocre schools, lousy air quality, and prayer is the prefered method of fighting fires? Or are we better than all that?

  3. Hey Norm says:

    Just to be clear…I have lived in Texas, and enjoyed my time there. I’m not talking about Texas – but Perry’s Texas.

  4. Al says:

    Isn’t this typical electoral politics, though? We’re still at the “move to the extremes” stage of the primaries. It’s way too early for anyone to head back to the middle yet. (And, of course, they won’t be disappointing everyone until after the election.)

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hey Norm: You forgot poverty, Norm.

    “The paper said poverty rates in Texas had jumped from 17.3% in 2009 to 18.4% in 2010, and compared them to figures for the US of 14.3% in 2009, rising to 15.1% in 2010. ”

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Oh, and if you have the time to waste, check out the Texas GOP party platform. That is the swamp Perry arises from.

    (via Kevin Drum)

  7. Hey Norm says:

    the most disturbing thing about Perry is that he instituted a “pole tax” on strippers. talk about discouraging job creators.

  8. Terrye says:

    Perry will get a pass from Republicans on this because he has largely walked back some of his initial comments. He is not the same guy who wrote that book it seems.

    People just figure talk about ponzi schemes is rhetoric and Perry actually wants to reform social security, not end it. I think that is kind of odd myself, because how do you reform a ponzi scheme? It is not reformable, you would have to replace it.

    But most people just think he is being a tough guy…if he had kept up a lot of that talk about the system being unconstitutional and states opting out and all that well..those numbers might look different.

  9. Terrye says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Poverty rates have gone up all over the country since Obama was elected.

  10. Scott O. says:

    Poverty rates have gone up all over the country since Obama was elected the economy crashed.

  11. WR says:

    @Terrye: He’s not the same guy who wrote the book he published SIX MONTHS AGO?

  12. Stan says:

    I’d be interested in what my fellow older voters think. This is a group that’s lukewarm about Obama, partly because of fears that the Affordable Care Act will hurt Medicare and partly because uneasiness about having an African-American president is higher among the elderly. But older voters are also fierce about protecting Social Security and Medicare, and their reaction to Paul Ryan’s proposal to replace Medicare by a voucher plan was highly negative even though they wouldn’t be affected directly. So I’m curious about what the geriatric set thinks about Governor Rick.

  13. anjin-san says:

    Poverty rates have gone up all over the country since Obama was elected

    Sorry, but Terrye is using the Republican History 2.0 textbook, in which Everything Was Peachy Until Obama Came Along.